COLUMBUS DAY
Push to abolish holiday gains support in cities

A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has gained momentum in some parts of the United States, with Los Angeles in August becoming the biggest city to stop honoring the Italian explorer and instead recognize victims of colonialism.

Austin followed suit last week, joining cities including San Francisco, Seattle and Denver, which had previously replaced the observation of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

But the gesture to recognize indigenous people rather than Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who opened the Americas to European domination, also has prompted howls of outrage from some Italian Americans, who say that eliminating their festival of ethnic pride is culturally insensitive, too.

"We had a very difficult time in this country for well over a hundred years," said Basil Russo, president of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America. "Columbus Day is a day that we've chosen to celebrate who we are. And we're entitled to do that just as they are entitled to celebrate who they are."

It's not about taking anything away from Italian Americans, said Cliff Matias, cultural director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, which is hosting a "Re-Thinking Columbus Day" event through Monday in New York.

"The conversation is Columbus," he said. "If they're going to celebrate Columbus, we need to celebrate the fact that we survived Columbus."

The debate over Columbus's legacy became emotionally charged after a similar debate in the South over monuments to Confederate figures flared into deadly violence in August at a rally in Charlottesville.

In New York, where 35,000 people are expected to march in Monday's parade, vandals last month doused the hands of a Columbus statue in red paint and wrote "Hate will not be tolerated." Activists calling for the city to change the parade's name also are expected to hold a demonstration.

— Associated Press

N.Y. man arrested in sexual assault: New Jersey state police said a New York man sexually assaulted two children during a recent home invasion. Craig Lassiter, 33, of Middletown, N.Y., entered the Wantage Township, N.J., home Sept. 18 and went into a bedroom shared by the children, police said. Authorities said he made violent threats and told the children that he had a gun. Troopers responding to a 911 call tried to stop a stolen vehicle allegedly driven by Lassiter, who they say drove over a mailbox and got away. Lassiter was arrested Sept. 22 in New York on charges of eluding and receiving stolen property. The sexual assault charges and several other counts were made public Sunday.

Teen accused of killing brother will stand trial: An Ohio teenager who was charged as an adult in the killing of his younger brother last year after an argument over Halloween candy has been ruled competent to stand trial. The Springfield News-Sun reported that a Clark County judge said that Nicholas Starling, 16, of Springfield is able to understand court procedures and assist his attorney. Public defender James Marshall had entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for Starling. Marshall couldn't be reached for comment Sunday. Authorities say Starling killed Harley Starling, 14, last October. Police said he told detectives he went into his brother's bedroom and hit him in the head multiple times with a baseball bat before stabbing him in the neck. Starling's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 28

— From news services